Antivirus software is a computer program that is designed specifically for detecting and cleaning viruses from computer systems. The earliest evidence of a documented computer virus dates back to the mid 1980s, when computer technology was a lot more primitive and simple. Viruses in those days were typically capable of self replication and very few of them were written to destroy or corrupt system files. Nowadays though, professional software developers are commissioned specifically to write new viruses that damage system data after infecting and render the computer useless. Such bugs are a common threat for company databases and even personal computers.
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Working of Antivirus Software:
Such softwares works in a variety of ways, the most common of which are as follows:
· Signature Based Detection: this is the most widely used manual method of virus detection in which the software examines files with a set of virus signatures that have been preloaded in its virus dictionary for similarities. In this way the Antivirus Software can recognize the files that have been affected by the virus. But this method of virus detection is not ideal, since new viruses are written everyday and the antivirus database may not contain samples of these new virus signatures. Hence, frequent updates are required.
· Heuristics: the Heuristic analysis is a recent addition to the antivirus software’s capabilities. In this method the antivirus scans infected files that contain variants of known virus samples. Viruses in general affect only one file and then mutate to become a variant of it. This can be simplified as a virus-family, where each mutation is slightly different from the parent virus. Heuristic analysis can recognize variants while signature based antivirus software do not.
· Rootkit Detection: rootkits are computer viruses that are designed to infect system files and gain administrative influence on other files. These viruses are more harmful than conventional ones because they can even tamper with the antivirus code and make it ineffective. Most new antivirus softwares are designed to detect such viruses but they cannot be removed; a fresh installation of the operating system is the only solution.
· Real Time Protection: certain softwares are designed to offer continuous protection while the system is running; other softwares require a manual scan initiation from time to time. But real time protection keeps a lookout for malicious files while you work, real time protection warns you of suspicious media that may be harboring programs that damage your computer.
New Trends in Antivirus Software:
In recent years, the growing trend is that of using network firewalls. While it needs to be understood that these firewalls cannot be used to remove or scan viruses that are already present on your system. Rather, these firewalls are employed to monitor and notify of malicious software while surfing the internet. The internet is the single, largest medium where viruses are propagated. Having an active network firewall will enable you to recognize malicious websites or data before downloading.
Gloria Philips is a guest blogger and content writer. She likes to share useful tips about Internet security. She recommends internet security test for safe internet surfing and PC security.